Letter of Interest vs. Cover Letter: Differences and How to Write

Letter of Interest vs. Cover Letter
Created by Cake

You might think a strong resume or CV can help you stand out from the crowd. That is correct, but not complete! In many cases, you need to demonstrate your passion as well as your interest in a specific position to further impress the hiring manager, which can be done through a letter of interest.

Don't mistake a letter of interest for a cover letter! The difference between a statement of interest vs. a cover letter lies in their purpose. Think of the letter of interest as a cold call for a job that is not being advertised, whereas a cover letter should go with a job application for an open job vacancy.  

Letter of Interest vs. Cover Letter 

Before diving into the differences between a cover letter and a letter of interest (LOI), note that a cover letter is also commonly referred to as a “job application letter". They serve a similar purpose and deliver similar contents. However, a letter of interest is different from a cover letter. 

1. LOIs are directed to companies that aren’t hiring

Let's say you are interested in a position in a company even though it's already filled or not being promoted on job sites. However, you hope to work at that company in the future and are confident that you would be the right fit. This is when a letter of interest should be used. 

A letter of interest doesn’t have to be accompanied with a resume because the hiring manager has no intention of hiring. A letter of interest, on the other hand, will help you to show your deep interest and curiosity about the company and/or the position. 

Some of the situations in which you should send out an LOI:

  • You’re just starting to look for a job. 
  • The company is new to the market. 
  • You’ve just relocated to a new area and are not familiar with the job market.

2. Cover letters are used to apply for job vacancies

A cover letter is nothing new - you might have seen it required in many job postings. Though it's not always required, employers would like to read a cover letter to better understand your motivation and qualifications. Thus, they can see whether you’re suitable for the job opening. 

That's why it should be sent along with your resume/CV for your job application. While a letter of interest focuses on conveying your interest in the role, a cover letter aims to explain why you’re applying for this role and point out what values you can bring to the organization.  

Example of an opening paragraph in a cover letter:

“My name is Lina Chen, a content marketing specialist with 3 years of experience. I came across the job listing for the content writer position at REGNA on LinkedIn. I’m confident that my proven expertise and skills make me the right fit for this role.” 

3. LOIs are typically shorter and more to-the-point

There’s no specific standard for the length of an LOI, but 200-300 words is considered a good amount.

You’re not required to appeal to the employer with your skills & qualifications, so you don't have a lot to write in your letter of interest. Since companies that you send your LOIs to are not actively hiring, you don’t want to take too much of their time reading through your letter. Therefore, keep it short and concise.

4. Letter of Intent vs. Letter of Interest vs. Cover Letter

Now that you can tell the differences between a cover letter and a letter of interest, how about a letter of intent?

A letter of intent can be considered as a combination of a cover letter and a letter of interest. It can be used in either of the two scenarios, as shown below.

  • If your letter of intent goes with a job application to complement your resume/CV, it should include information on why you are qualified for the position.
  • If the company doesn't have any specific jobs listed, your letter of intent will help express your intent in working for them in the future and explain why you would be a good fit.

The difference is that letters of intent are used as a tool to introduce yourself and connect the hiring manager to your resume, rather than demonstrating how well you understand the company and the position.  

How to Write a Letter of Interest

1. Self introduction

To begin with, you should write 2-3 sentences that include your name and a summary of your background. That can be about your specialization, achievements, or educational qualifications, depending on whether you are an experienced individual or a recent graduate. 

2. Purpose of writing

Next, provide the reason why you're writing a letter of interest. Be honest, sincere, and straightforward. You will need only one sentence for this statement. 

3. Illustration of qualifications, skills & experience

Here comes the most important part of the letter - an illustration of how you fit the role and the company, as well as a summary of your skills and experience. 

To prove that you're capable of performing well at work, it's important to list out technical skills and relevant experiences you've acquired in previous positions. Meanwhile, soft skills are strong evidence that you can get along well with other peers and be the right cultural fit. 

Moreover, it's a great idea to present notable accomplishments you've achieved in the field. That way, you will be able to catch the employer's attention and make them read your resume.

4. Invitation for an interview

This is similar to any kind of application letter. You will need to politely ask for their time to meet so that they can get to know you more. This is also a step that shows your enthusiasm and genuine interest. Make sure you also include your thanks for the employer's time and consideration. 

5. Attachments

Consider including a resume or CV with your letter of interest if you have plenty of experience and achievements in the field. It also doesn't hurt to attach other supporting documents such as your portfolio and copies of certifications.  

On the other hand, you may not need to do so if you're a fresh graduate with limited work experience. However, it's still important to let them know that you're willing to submit any documents if required. 

Here’s a sample of what your letter of interest should look like:

Julie Garcia | Event Manager
Lolita, TX 77971
[email protected]

May 20th, 2021 

Katherine Park | Event Manager
STAR Media Corp.
2415 Retama Dr., Victoria, TX 77901

Dear Ms. Park,

My name is Julie Garcia, a freelance event planner with 8+ years of experience. I came across STAR Media on a recent TV show and the way the company has been approaching clients and providing services really impressed me. I would like to introduce myself and let you know if you ever need an event manager, I would appreciate being considered for the job.

I have a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) certificate and have led over 130+ events, including weddings, corporate events, concerts, and fundraisers. I am highly organized, competent and work with high responsibility to make sure customer expectations are exceeded in every aspect of an event. 

I would value the opportunity to speak with you further about how my skills and experience would make me a valued member at STAR Media. Please kindly let me know how I can submit my resume and portfolio for your consideration. 

With gratitude, 
Julie Garcia

Tips for Writing an Impressive Letter of Interest

💡 Do thorough research.

As a letter of interest is for jobs that aren’t advertised, you need to do deeper research to get a better understanding of the company and the role. Once you know their goals and working environment, you can prove yourself as a perfect match. 

Here are some effective ways to learn about the company: 

  • Reach out to employees on LinkedIn. 
  • Go over old job listings.
  • Check out the company’s website and social media pages.
  • Read threads written by employees on social media.

💡 Focus on your interest & motivation.

Still remember the difference between an expression of interest vs. a cover letter? 

Yes, a letter of interest serves as a means for expressing your interest in working for a company. Hence, it should be the main content of your letter.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself when demonstrating your interest and motivation:

  • What makes you want to work for the company? (i.e., business model, goals & mission, work culture, employee benefits, etc.)
  • What motivates you to pursue a career in this field?

💡 Use power words.

Power words like action verbs and positive adjectives are an easy yet effective way to emphasize your impact when describing previous duties and responsibilities. They also help express yourself better and grab the employer's attention. 

Examples of action verbs in a letter of interest:  

  • Demonstrate 
  • Lead 
  • Accomplish
  • Develop
  • Generated

Examples of positive adjectives a letter of interest:

  • Passionate 
  • Dynamic 
  • Detail-oriented 
  • Exceptional 
  • Trustworthy

💡 Offer to send your resume.

As mentioned earlier, it's optional to attach a resume/CV to your letter of interest. Regardless of your decision, make sure you include a kind reminder about your resume.

💡 Politely ask for a meeting or interview.

Being proactive in inviting the employer to speak further with you will increase the chances of getting an interview or just a casual talk. Keep in mind to be polite and give them several options so they can pick the one that most suits their schedule. 

How to Write a Professional Cover Letter

In terms of the cover letter format, it's similar to a letter of interest. You will need to divide it into 3-4 paragraphs and cover the following information.

1. Self introduction & motivation to apply

To start with, you need to introduce your name, your expertise and explain the purpose of this letter. So, it's basically the same when you write a letter of interest. 

Think of this opening paragraph as a greeting and a tool to impress the employer right away.

2. Why you are a great fit for the role

Next, explain why you think you're an ideal candidate. The hiring manager expects to see additional information that's not mentioned in your resume or CV. Hence, focus on showing what you can contribute to the company and make strong connections between your qualifications and the job requirements. 

3. Examples of your accomplishments & experiences

In the body paragraph, it's important to present outstanding accomplishments you've achieved in the field, especially measurable results. This is a great way to prove your capabilities and show that you could be a profitable addition to their company. 

4. Invitation to interview

In the final paragraph, include a CTA (call to action) which shows your desire to be called for an interview. Taking this proactive approach is more likely to land the job interview than if you do not follow up.

5. Invitation to read your resume

Besides asking for an interview, you also need to motivate the hiring manager to read your resume, check out your LinkedIn profile, and/or visit your portfolio. Doing so will help show that you're well-prepared for the job application and willing to provide any further details if needed.

6. Sign offs

Now, end your cover letter with a proper closing, followed by your signature. The general rule is using formal sign-offs such as “Sincerely”, “Best”, “Kind regards", etc; and avoiding casual language and tone like “Yours truly", “Cheers,” or "Take care".

7. Attachments

When sending out your cover letter, make sure you also attach a resume/CV and if necessary, your portfolio and other documents. 

Keep in mind to name your files professionally, like this:

“[First name]_[Last name]_[Document name]

🔑 Key Takeaways:

Now, you should know the difference between a cover letter and letter of interest, and when to use them. If you are applying for an open job listing, send a cover letter along with your resume. Your cover letter should emphasize the qualifications that make you a great candidate for the job.

On the other hand, if you want to show interest in a position or role that is not open for recruitment, send a letter of interest instead. Clearly state your purpose of writing and keep your letter of interest brief.

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--- Originally written by May Luong ---


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